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Tea Leaves

Fate of Beijing bar a lesson in urban development

City's demolition drive is changing the face of the capital

Flower power Beidong market’s resilient traders have learnt to work through the anxiety that is part of business in China. (Photo by Shrish Rane) 

The bulldozers had done their work with their customary ruthless efficiency. If you had not known what had stood there, if you were driving by for the first time, it would have looked like a freshly hoed field. Only if you stopped would you notice the broken bricks in the furrows, the bits of plaster and fugitive glass.

The flattened plot was all that was left of a little strip mall that had stood in my corner of suburban Beijing since before I moved there in 2016. It had housed a grocery, a German-run bakery next door to an Australian vendor of gourmet meats, a realtor's office, a spa and a bar I called Cheers.

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